Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hello Shoes! I'm Back!

Three weeks since my last post. My runs had been as smattering as my blogging. A couple of morning runs, all under an hour (translate: bad... too short), were all I managed over the weeks. I still kept up the long runs over the weekends, but those were getting slower and slower. Where the route from my house to MR and back used to take 2:45 - 2:50h, I was clocking 3h now. *shake head*

Then I laid off for one entire week, and had bouts of ups and downs (mostly downs) for the next two weeks. Runs were so lethargic, I walked an awful lot. Something was not quite right.

Anyhow, I'm so glad things are sort of back under control, and I'm fitted snuggly into my shoes again. :)  Happily went out for my long run this morning. Glad to report that apart from burning legs (because of the stair-climbing last night), I was not out of breath and totally enjoying the run by myself. :)

Hello shoes! Yes, I'm back to hit the trails again! :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stairs Oh Stairs

Today was "Eat with Family Day" and everyone could be let off at 5pm. Unfortunately, my family, one was out at an office function. And my mum whom I was supposed to have dinner with 'flew my aeroplane' and abandoned me for an outing with friends. Brilliant.

Thankfully my friends decided on an impromptu stair-climb training that evening. I did not have any gear with me and had to borrow practically everything from Winnie (thanks!). It was my first time joining them in this drill, and also my first time at the 40-storey TPY flats - I usually train at the 30-storey flats in Tiong Bahru.

Drill - 6 sets of up and down

1-up: 7:11min
1-down: 5:56min
2-up: 7:13min
2-down: 6:52min
3-up: 8:05min
3-down: 7:06min
4-up: 8:54min
4-down: lift!
5-up: 8:50min
6-up: 8:42min

I alternated between taking double-steps for one set, and single-steps for the next set. The former was less tiring (surprisingly), perhaps because it engages the bigger muscle groups in the quads. The latter was a strain on my calves, with the higher leg turnover and cadence.

It was such a long time since I last did any stair-climbs. My legs were burning and jelli-fied by the end of the session.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crazy School Weeks Make Sub-par Runs

Over the weekend, I tried to relish whatever free time I had left before school term begins again. Saturday morning was a washout and I happily slept in til late. It was generally a very cool day and I went for an evening run along the MTB - yes, mud pools and couple of fallen branches all over. Then on Sunday morning, I did my usual to-and-fro MR loop. Of late, the weather has been utterly random. It was sweltering hot on Sunday, compared to the previous day. I was toasted, again. However, by the time I reached home, it started thundering and I barely missed the short but intense downpour. Whew, at least I got my run done.

And.... *drumroll please* .... the start of school. Four evenings per week. The schedule was simply crazy. That meant that all runs had to be in the mornings. Given that I get home anywhere between 10 - 11pm each day, followed by random To-do tasks, I was most reluctant to get out of bed each morning. And consequently overslept.

I only managed to get myself out on the tarmac on Wed and Thurs. :(  And only managed to tackle 52min each time on the tarmac Rifle Range Road. Sigh. :((  Way off norm. But no matter how short, I needed those quiet me-time to simply breathe normally, un-tensed, and ease into the craziness of each day.

*Deep breath*
One week down, five more to go.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Little Evening Run

Life feels normal again, just for this week. School's over. Exam's over. And I can go join my friends at MF for an evening run and dinner, with no time pressure and back-of-mind stress. Ahh, life is pretty good for now.

I started late but followed the MF designated route for today. The start of the road run was a bit lacklustre. Went up Morse Road and across the Henderson Wave. The wooden bridge looked rather nice against the sunset. I think Singapore won some urban award for this bridge design. Across the bridge and down the other end, I bumped into Melvin who was waiting for the last runners. They had gone around the TB Hill loop, so I skipped that and rejoined the group towards Depot Road. Re-joined, as in they were within sight, not that I was running with them. A big difference.

I ran into Canterbury estate. Jaime and Melvin both said that we were supposed to do the 'short loop', but I had no idea what was the shortened version. I had only one route around Canterbury, or else I would get lost somewhere. So I simply ran that complete loop that I always did. I sort of like running in Canterbury and peering into all those big, nice Colonial bungalows. They were state property and not for sale. Only for rental and I think all to foreigners. They pay rents in the region of S$20,000 per month for a giant house nested in the greens and seclusion, full of character. After the loop, I continued to Alexandra and TB St 31 to get back to clubhouse.

A nice little evening run. Ahhh.

My Random Thoughts on Being Singaporean

Of late, I have been uncomfortable picking up news and observations about life in Singapore from the lens of a Singaporean. As I read more online posts, forum letters, newspaper commentaries and so on, the lingering discomfort got stronger.

In no order of sequence or synthesis (and take this as me mumbling to myself in some disorganised, random way), these are the issues that triggered my thoughts:

1. Housing - yes, the perennial election hot potato. The runaway property market prices and insanely tiny shoeboxes are recipes for disasters once interest rates revalue and rise.

2. Universal insurance coverage - the unhealthy minority that all insurance companies reject and avoid will ultimately become societal's healthcare and fiscal cost. Unless there is mandatory state regulation to cover this group at higher premiums (spread out) for all. It is not a question about economic efficiency, at least not directly because there is nothing efficient about cover already- or have-recovered sick people. The decision to make it mandatory or not cuts to the core of what do we want really as a society and nation.

3. Singapore, our home - I'm tired of reading yet more reports about how Singapore is the XX (insert any high-ranking number) most desirable place for some unknown foreigners or overseas Singaporeans who have the world to choose from. Imho, Singapore should be the MOST desirable place to live and work for Singaporeans. If it is not, and if we are 'stuck' here out of no choice, then something is seriously flawed.

4. Income inequality - that runaway Gini coeff has made Singapore the most 'unequal' place in Asia. Such, everyone can tolerate some measures of inequality so long as everyone else has enough. The flyaway nouveau rich gap against the rut-stuck poor has widened. Globalisation and growth are no longer seen to be delivering the golden fruits as they once promised. The benefits are diffused and not clearly seen, but the costs are becoming localised and painfully felt.

5. Inflation another culprit - Any econs student will tell you that Singapore is an open economy, with trade in our lifeblood at 3.5x our GDP. As such, we are very susceptible to imported inflation onto our shores. However, as one newspaper commentary recently pointed out, the sources of our recent 5% (persistent) inflation is not so much directly imported as domestically generated. Eg. high property prices (from hot money) and transport prices (from COE system). On the other hand, wages have not been rising at 5%. one does not need to be a maths whiz to figure out that we are actually poorer by the day.

6. Cars and a warped COE - Every newcomer to Singapore is astounded by the high prices we pay to own a car. The expensive thing called a COE that one has to bid for. When I studied Econs in school, COE was a clear-cut demand-supply illustration, very straightforward, very easy to understand its policy mechanism and rationale. But I wonder if sometimes this is also a case where policies constructed in a very engineering way ignores the unintended social consequences. With a tightening of COE, car prices have been shooting through the roof. The warped outcome is that people see no value in paying an expensive COE for a normal Honda or Toyota sedan (the usual family cars) as it is not worth the price in proportion to the cost of car. As a result, COEs are being bid up by car collectors, people who are buying the Lamborghinis and Maseratis. So the average resident who needs a car to get by with his family, elderly or children, is unable to get a car. The above-average resident gets to buy a car for showroom purposes.

I look at my colleagues - young elites - who easily earn more than the combined household incomes of many median families, by him/herself, and I wonder if they really empathise with the average median Singapore. I look at my friends, we and their children are considered lucky because we can afford to make choices, offered a life of comfort and opportunities. To operate from a position of having options is to operate from a position of power. The more options, the higher the power. Again, I wonder if these young children will grow up being able to empathise with their many counterparts who do not have such luxuries (now termed necessities) in life.

This is my selective random rambling to self (I like 'talking' to myself :)). I just wanted to get it jotted down somewhere and off my chest, so there. It is not so much a critique (hardly organised enough to be one), but thoughts gathered from simple daily observations as a Singaporean. I have no solutions, except to repeat that Singapore should be the most desired place for a Singaporean. Otherwise, it is time to reflect.

.... I think I should go for a run soon. It's much easier than mulling over these issues. Run, yes!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Swim, Totally CMI

This is our 1 week of term break before the crazy schedule starts again next year, and I was savouring the relaxed, un-rushed mode. :) A tad chill-out, if I might add.

Went to Safra in the evening for a swim. Yes, a swim. That activity that takes place in chlorine-filled water. My last swim was in July 2011, almost a year ago, at the Port Dickson race. I since stopped swimming after that, until today.

I only had 30min and only managed 20 laps. Even then, my arms were aching and my head was giddy from the turning around. And there was water in my ear, as usual.

Totally CMI imho. Will think about whether I will be in shape by July to take part in a race or not. I think I will be very happy just driving up to Malaysia as a supporter too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lovely Long Runs

Spent my entire weekend preparing (or pretending to) for my last paper on Monday. Prof very generously loaded us with two sets of 70pg "supplementary" readings  on Thurs night, and expected us to digest all of that over the weekend. :(  Alber was off to Kapas for the 6.5km swim in Malaysia and I was stuck at home with the stacks of papers and notes.

It poured heavily on Saturday morning, the land-sliding kind of rain. Perfect excuse not to run and get focused on my readings. Goodness gracious, the readings were so dry, it took me an average of 1h to get through 10 pages. And in between that, I managed to wipe the floor and do my laundry (that showed how uninspiring the cases were...). I finally finished the first set of readings after 6-7h! Tak boleh tahan (Malay slang for "cannot take it!"), it was now late afternoon. I decided to ditch the case and head for the trails. A short run became about 1:40h but it was nice and cool in the trails by evening time. I ran through the MTB trail, Zhenghua 3x loops, and back the MTB trail. After the run, I contemplated ordering pizza delivery, or MacDonalds, or KFC... yes all that junk! And then resisted all of that and drove to a nearby coffeeshop for dinner instead. After an entire day of cereals and yoghurt, I needed something savory.

Sunday morning, yes! Bright sunshine and very hot weather. Time for another long run, uninterrupted, no time pressure. I was about to step out when I spotted a dead bird in my balcony! The poor thing must have kamikaze-d into the glass doors thinking it could fly through, smashed right into it, thud-ded onto my outdoor table (there were feathers all over the table), before dropping dead on the floor. Ouch. :(  It was a rather pretty bird, with yellow and green feathers. Quite big-sized too.

Anyhow, I finallly managed to get to my run. It was blazing hot out there, and I sought refuge in the trails. But even then, it was extremely humid. My shirt was sticking to me and I was literally dripping with sweat. By the time I got to MR, I had almost finished my water. I extended my normal route slightly by about 30min (a few kilometres). The extension was to the Ranger Station and to the barricade, and back, before continuing with the normal MR loop. At some point I regretted the extension because suddenly my legs were feeling very unrecovered from last night's run. And I was simply wilting under the weather. But I had a study group discussion to get to, so I had to get home in time by hook or crook. So no choice, pressing on.... Finally finished the 3:30h run. Possibly about 26.5km?

Monday - last paper! Rest day too.

Tuesday - Labour Day and a much-needed public holiday. Woohoo! Again, a blazing hot day. There were some intermittent clouds, but otherwise, it was hot. I ran my usual BT-MR route, and saw Jancy & Vincent. They were training for the Great Wall marathon - wow, that's a tough one. There were many hikers and families in the trail today, and they were sitting/ resting everywhere on the open grass patches, especially near the golf course area. I was part amused by the sight (have never seen so many 'picnicking' groups before) and part worried that they might get hit by flying golf balls! I also saw a guy who managed to hook a beautiful fish - not sure what it is called, but it had a white-silver base, with black and yellow stripes. It was quite a big fish, and he then released it back into the water. Running on.... after my third bottle of water, I got out of the trails and bumped into Jancy & Vincent again. We were all drenched and dying from the heat. Managed to get home in 3h. Whew! Absolutely toxic with sweat!  But loving it. :)